Thursday, 28 November 2013

SOJA - "Strength To Survive" - a review

Lately I have started listening to a lot of reggae again. It all started through an interview I saw with HR (singer of Bad Brains). He reminded my all things good about reggae, while he spoke about always being composed and rooted in yourself. These are things that I myseld try to implement, and HR and good reggae music help me find that grounded sense of being, and help me be composed and centrered.

On to SOJA. This 'new reggae' band does it just fine for me, since it is basically good old roots reggae music with a positive message which (on this album) focuses on the topic of surviving in this babylon world. Exactly what I need. Honestly, during these troubling times sometimes it helps to go back to the basics and remember that surviving is the essence of life. It helps a lot to go back to being survival-centered. It is the base for bigger things, because being all about survival helps you take the right decisions in life, take care of yourself etc. So Strength to Survive is the best title I could think of for a chilled out roots rock reggae album.

The album is filled with nice, laid back rocking grooves and positive messages, and I have to say that SOJA really knows how to make a nice reggae song with all the right components. Nice melodies, great verses, choruses that are catchy but aren't ridiculously sweet or anything. There are songs about life in babylon, love songs, personal growth songs -- it's all right here. The lyrics are uplifting a a whole, but that doesn't exclude a bit of melancholy in there, where we hear stories of reminsicing about better times past or about what could be. A great cover art ties everything together nicely and gives of a nice Peace feeling.

I am just happy to have this album to rock to while working those hectic shifts, serving customers and trying to give off a good vive to them, cleaning the shop or just kicking back and taking it easy for a while. I will definitely be looking for more albums of SOJA to discover and listen to in depth.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Circa Survive - "Blue Sky Noise" review (2010)

Circa Survive is one of the numerous indie/experimental rock bands that I have been getting into lately. Over the last year and especially in the last few months, all kinds of modern rock with a distinct indie character has been growing on me. This is a big change for me, after years upon years of only listening to the more simple, brutal and straightforward stuff in the realm of punk and hardcore. I don't know if it is a part of growing older or whatever, but I am not resisting to more mainstream/mellow music anymore, as long as it rocks my world and makes me feel good. And Circa Survive does that.

Blue Sky Noise was released in 2010 and it is a perfect example of that brainy, experimental, melancholic indie that I am talking about. There is an important dose of distortion and rocking, but mostly we have easy listening, wide choruses and verses with perfect, innovative drumming that goes all around the spectrum of experimental rock music, and nice multi varied guitars. This pop rock gem brings in elements from many genres, including modern stadium rock, some straight up pop, a good dose of heavy emo, some country-ish guitar layering, a little bit of gospel, and much much more.

It is the type of record that you have to listen many times until you really get it (something that I haven't accomplished yet, I am going for 30-40 listens at least on this one), and of course the records that grow on me slowly are my favorite kind of records. You can play this in a room with people and it could go down as some nice American indie rock, but when you sit down alone and listen to the record, you can recognise its subtle, almost dispassionate beauty that creeps in and inevitably grows on you. These apparently happy songs slowly become fence sitters on the whole happy/sad agenda, giving you a strong bittersweet feeling and ultimately leaving you wanting more to reenact the whole thing.

Extra points go out for: multi-layered and varied guitar work, unusual drum patterns, equally unusual high-pitched vocals that somehow work, nice cover artwork which displays the whole contrast the music expresses.

Links Updated

I just uploaded some new links. Mostly straightforward Krishna-related stuff, like (where you can download many of Prabhupadas lectures, kirtans etc) and Krishna Store (where you can find KC books and meditation equipment). Check it all out if that's your sort of thing. I also uploaded the link of Beyond This World Records, which is my new record label project.

I never saw myself as the devout person who would share links about Krishna, but I guess that it does help me to get all organised about Krishna. After all building one's life around Krishna so you can see, feel and hear Him as much as possible is a blissful thing.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

spiraled downwards

Sometimes you can sure be tired of being good. People like me, all our lives we tried to get away from our beast of an ego, and we are proud because we did, but then again we realize that it is always there. It won't go. Our negative side still exists within us.

I feel like the more you progress down a spiritual path, the bigger the risk of falling there is. In reality, there is nothing to fall from, no fall from grace, but our ego goes through all kinds of tribulations and walks on a razor's edge in the eternal fight between right and wrong.

I got a steady life and a relatively good karma, but what good is it to the insatiable thirst? It is so easy to fuck things up. It is so damn easy to destroy, to let go, definitely easier than creating or even maintaining. What do you do when you are fed up with putting up, with  maintaing, while the beast inside is ready to rage? So much rage, anger, and shame, nothing but soulfood for the ego.

I guess it's the fight of "another day". Much like an ex-addict, you gotta take one day at a time in order to maintain. Prioritize. See what it took to be where you are, and that there is no need to let negative energy come in your life and destroy everything you've built. At the end of the day, every insult, every bad thought, every negative connotation is not reality, we just let it in to prey on us. And that's not the way of Krishna.

So give praises and be here to fight for another day!

p.s. posting Cro-Mags (well, White Devil), because I fucking love them and it feels like this music is the only thing that relates in hard times like this. This has been playing non-stop the last few days.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Aspects of Self

We have all wondered whether there is something we can call "True Self" within. For a long time I believed that identity could just be a fabricated notion, societal experiences and beliefs stored in our conscious and subconscious minds.

After some years of self-observation and reading, I have come to the conclusion that the entity we perceive as "Self" is something comprised of various aspects of the Self. Here, I am not just talking about the conscious/subconscious level that modern science talks about. What I have in mind is much easier to understand according to Hindu thought that includes the notion of Super Self -- a portion of cosmic lifeforce that exists with us all.

We could better understand our Self as an entity comprised of 3 separate parts. This three-sided Self is evident in many different viewpoints:

- the self that I myself perceive, the self that others see, and the one that I actually am (no solid Self).
- the Self existing in the distinction between mind, body and soul.
- the karma-given self (physical self with certain characteristics and predispositions), the inner self (mind, thoughts, beliefs), & the Super Self (God within, wisdom, paramatma, inherent sense of right and wrong).
- the coscious, subcosncious and "Super" conscious minds.
- the 'inherent tendencies' Self, the'work in progress' self, the 'Wisdom' Self.

Identity is everything, nevertheless everyone struggles with it. Losing a strict sense of our identity may be for the better as it leaves up space for interpretation and wisdfom. From what we see through self-observation, there is definitely more than the eye sees. There is an intanglible aspect of the Self, which we cannot pin down or even understand.

I guess that the more important part is to remember when things are not OK (due to who we think we are, how we look, what we think, our inabilities to work in certain ways and just about a million types of guilt complexes) that there is not a specific "I" that is repsonsible for what happens. Difficulties are a part of everyone's life, since we live in the world of maya (illusion) and have this physical body. Sure enough,we are accountable for the karma comes our way and which we have to face (and process in order to grow).

However, there is also a psychological, intanglible self which is moldable and formless, with the ability to think and feel in ways that can prevent bad karma, and can take us to a much desired next level of consciousness. Most of all, we have to know that there is a deeper, greater Self, which is unchanging/all pervading and exists in everyone. This lifeforce exists in every living being, even though it has assimilated a separate identity for each and everyone (known as jiva, the individual soul) guides things, gives a sense of purpose. It is now time to search the depths of our soul and try to come to some sort of communication with the deeper Self hidden within us, so we can make do and mend, and reach higher planes of existence through contact with the Supreme.

"There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
People will do anything, no matter how absurd,
in order to avoid facing their own soul.
One does not become enlightened
by imagining figures of light,
but by making the darkness conscious."
Carl Jung

Thursday, 31 October 2013

I am planning to be back on this here blog. Lots of stuff I want to post. But for now, I will just post this. Great pop music to chill out to and to make you think.

Monday, 4 March 2013


"Not had much time for spiritual activities recently"...  perhaps a true statement, but why should we say that? Isn't spirituality embedded in our everyday life (or at least, shouldn't it be)? Actually, it is more of a natural and frequent need, not something to force or something that we take 10-20 minutes to sit down and do. On a personal level, I am trying to elevate my life and make it more spiritual as a whole; not just something that I do at home (i.e. meditation), I want to take my spirituality everywhere I go, and let it inspire my whole life!

And how do I do this? The answer is simple: m i n d f u l n e s s , or differently put: just being present and watching your thoughts. Mindfulness, a practice found in many types of Buddhism is a simple but effective way to stay grounded and centered within yourself. We all know how easy it is to forget oneself and get tangled up in all kinds of negative thoughts. It is this noise that stops us from being who we want to be - a person with positive thoughts and a caring mind.

Every day, the first thing I try to think of when I wake up is to have that "no mind" quality. Some also call it "beginner's mind". It's not always easy. More often than not, the brain wants to be dancing around, thinking useless, negative (sometimes) thoughts that have nothing to offer to me or anyone else. So I try to take it slow and de-activate that clutter with some mindfulness. Be present, watch my thoughts and try to not pay too much attention to them because they are just passing waves in the ocean of consciousness.

Destroying demons is an everyday part of training in mindfulness!
Mindfulness has a huge psychological effect on our well being, because when we actively watch our thoughts, they miraculously have a tendency to become more calm and serene, and the train of thought is easier to stop before we become agitated, angry etc. I don't know exactly why or how this happens, other that I know it does happen. I guess that inside, we have some kind of "watcher" who knows what's good for us and what's not -- we just have to let go and let it shine through. This could be our common sense or something else, more divine. At this point, each person decides for themselves.

There are millions of pages written about mindfulness and the nature of no-mind, by many scholars of all kinds of religions and sects. But for me, a person with a very busy life that is almost always outside of the house, the good thing about mindfulness is that it is a type of meditation that can be done at all times and anywhere I might find myself. All it takes is a deep breath and the choice to come back to the present.

As a hardcore kid who wants the world and wants it like, NOW, mindfulness does miracles for my psyche. It shows me how to move back a bit and reevaluate my position. It relieves stress, anger and negative feelings,  and it makes me feel and appreciate the present a lot more. I will continue with mindfulness as long as this life throws me around in a world of appearances that are definitely not always easy on me.